Shiok!

Met up with a friend who is back in Singapore from the land of smiles, and after a late coffee she suggested that we head to Koh Grill & Sushi Bar for the Shiok! maki. Well, I have heard of this many times over but never got the chance to try it or never had the inkling to want to try it. But we went anyhow and there was a queue, at about 845pm on a Sunday evening. But at that time, the queue cleared fairly quickly, possibly because most of the dinner crowd was finishing up their meals and the second batch of the late dinner folks could take over.

This was the only picture taken.

20140109-231117.jpgI’m not sure how this name came about but the maki do taste quite good. It’s their signature dish and it’s evident because there was a dedicated staff standing at the counter the whole time we were there just making this. Until the queue stopped of course, and she also started to clean up the place and stopped making the maki. Probably the copious amount of mayonnaise drizzled on top of the maki made it so good, but I think the ingredients that went into it helped too, and then using a naked flame to torch the maki lightly, giving it a slight grilled texture perhaps? I’m a complete novice where cooking is concerned so I should be the last person talking about cooking methods. This version that we ordered was supposedly the original version, stuffed with eel. There is a new version of the shiok maki, comprising of prawns if I recall, so I guess that will have to wait till the next time I visit, if I want to brave the queue once more, or go when the queues are expected to move fast.

We ordered some other food too, grilled salmon and also hand rolls, but since those aren’t the special items of this sushi bar, and they don’t look all that different or special even though they were good, we thought it best to savour them warm instead of snapping photos of them.

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Sugisawa, Robertson Quay

I was trying to look for any homepage online of Sugisawa at Robertson Quay but they only have a FB page it seems, although there have been various reviews by local food bloggers since years back for this Japanese restaurant. Well I didn’t actually read the reviews but a quick scan shows that the reviews seemed generally good and positive, and it is also proof that this eatery has been around for a good many years. For good reason too! It is actually the first time I’m trying it, because there are just too many F&B outlets in that area to check out and I don’t usually go there because it is kind of like some “atas” area that is not within close proximity of MRT stations. I love Japanese food, and have tried a different Jap restaurant just next to it (if I’m not wrong it’s called Shunjuu) which was really good too!

Anyway, back to Sugisawa. Their menu doesn’t contain many pictures, especially of the a la carte items but the bento boxes are mostly pictured, to give you an idea of what you are paying for and also to perhaps help with the decision-making. Prices are pretty reasonable, for each bento box you pay about S$20 (before taxes) depending on what goes into the box.

My friend ordered an assortment of tempura, cold soba and sushi, priced at S$24. Imagine all this food for just S$24!

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I might have considered this too because tempura is something I really enjoy but it felt like a substantial amount of carbohydrates and I had quite a big sandwich at lunch so I passed on it.20130813-101419.jpg

And opted for this instead, which had a very generous fillet of grilled teriyaki cod, salmon and tuna sashimi and some other assortment of items that included a prawn, sweet egg, carrot, fishcake, etc. There was rice too, of course, sprinkled with a dusting of plum powder which I liked but I didn’t take the rice since the rest of the items in the box already left me extremely full by the end of it. 20130813-101426.jpg

Here’s a closer look, and oh man, just looking at the cod makes me feel like eating it again.20130813-101433.jpg

What I liked about them was that the food was really good, of course that’s one of the things we look for in restaurants/eateries, and they are generous with the serving too. The sushi is more fish than rice and the ingredients were fresh and tasty. It was an enjoyable dinner that did not burn a hole in our pockets, and it was also a rather cool evening so sitting outside did not make us start perspiring over our food. I’m not sure how spacious the inside of the restaurant would be but on weekends if you would like to sit indoors perhaps you want to try calling for reservations. Service was generally ok but when the customers started filing in around dinner-time, they seemed pretty short-handed and requests for top-up of our green tea took a while, three times to three different waitresses before our cups were re-filled. Other than that, it’s a good place that I will return again for their food.

Mikuni at Fairmont

What used to be called Inagiku many years ago changed its name, and perhaps concept, to Mikuni, which is located at level 3 of Fairmont hotel, accessible from a corner of Raffles City.

While it was still Inagiku, I visited it a couple of times, usually choosing to order their sashimi platters or shabu-shabu or sukiyaki sets. Food was good but pricey, and back then the decor of the restaurant was that of a typical Japanese restaurant of the old days, boasting homely colours of light ply wood (I think, something beigey-yellow) that just make me think of many of the eateries I have been to in Japan. When it underwent a renovation the interior got many shades darker, the walls became dark brown/black. I think it was meant to give the restaurant a more updated and modern vibe, or perhaps the change in name or management fuelled the need to overhaul its appearance, to give it a look that is more aligned with the pricing of the food.

I went there once after that and felt that the food quality dropped, or maybe it was just the ambience or somewhat that made the food taste a bit different. Anyhow, that was also where I went a couple of weeks ago for my birthday treat! This time round, I think the food was better, maybe the years in-between this and my prior visit gave them the chance to finetune and improve the culinary skills of the chefs, or maybe it was just how I felt on both occasions.

Their menu is pretty comprehensive but it makes the ordering difficult because if you would like to have a few items that includes sashimi, then you have to think about your budget too. Haha. My friend was able to get a discount off the food so it was well-worth it for us!

Complimentary appetiser. I cannot remember what this is but it’s thin and crispy and tasted like it contained prawn.

Instead of sashimi, we ordered the mixed sushi plate. I liked that the sushi is more fish than rice, and of course the ingredients were really fresh! But perhaps we had too much rice, because in addition to this platter we also had a maki plate.

But this was really good, avocado and I think yellow tail (one of my favourites). And with sushi/sashimi, the wasabi just makes it even better.

Being a big tempura fan, we also had a mixed tempura plate, which consists seafood (prawn and fish slices) and assoted vegetables.

There was an additional grilled or barbequed pork rib that we ordered, that we only had a bit of and were unable to finish because we were so full from all the rice stuff. So a tip for those who have small appetites, don’t take too much carbo, or maybe that’s not really a tip, we probably overestimated ourselves. :p

The pork rib was nicely done and not too oily but it had lots of fatty parts in it that I think most people would really enjoy; we packed that back home but I don’t know why I don’t have a photo of it here.

Since we were already bursting we decided to skip dessert but anyway there was a complimentary matcha mochi dessert, that also came with cubes of azuki sticky cake (rice cake maybe). This was good because it wasn’t sweet, the sweetness of the red bean was complemented well with the slight traces of bitterness from the matcha in perhaps its natural unsweetened form. Nice way to end the meal! And thanks for the treat, my friend!